From Sold Out Trop to 11,000 in 24 Hours. Does it Matter?

I got a lot of texts/tweets last night from my Rays fan friends and friends who support other teams. How can you go from Sold Out on Opening Day to 11,000 people in less than 24 hours they asked? Some had even thought Tuesday was our Opening Day (“Can’t sell out Opening Day? Pathetic!”). I even got to take a typical dip in the Troll pool with this tweet:





I didn’t respond. It’s a fair point. The contrast from Opening Day looked TERRIBLE. On TV it looked worse BUT Truth be told we knew it was coming. Let’s implore some logic…I don’t care if it was the 2nd game of the season; it was a Tuesday night game against the Blue Jays. Yeah sure some of our Canadian friends are still waiting for their homes to thaw out and probably stuck around a little later this Spring to see their Jays play – but not enough to make a huge difference. This was never going to be a great turnout night. We have to crawl before we can walk but let’s not go crazy just yet because a Tuesday night Jays game drew 11k.



In the grand scheme of things Tuesdays/Wednesdays vs anything less than a top tier team (Yanks, Red Sox, Dodgers etc) are not going to be anything to write home about. In talking with some in the off season even Friday night games are going to become challenging to a degree within the context of attendance. SO when we first looked at the schedule we saw nothing but a rough start. Yeah it doesn’t help that the Lightning are in the playoffs. Yeah it doesn’t help that Tampa vs. St. Pete stadium talk has begun to isolate a few…BUT the real issue is a bit of that same old same old. Our Season Ticket base is small, and the Jays and Rangers don’t draw well at the Trop from visitors and those who have relocated to our region.



There is nothing wrong with looking at our attendance challenge strategically. That’s what we did this year with Top Off The Trop. We picked a game with broader appeal (Yankees) but it is still an off night (Thursday). We knew we’d open with the Jays / Rangers at home and than hit the road for 10 days. We are to a degree counting on some PENT UP DEMAND. My Point: We can still move the attendance needle and draw 11,000 against the Jays on a Tuesday night (I PROMISE). I know for a fact that many of our followers were SHOCKED to learn that in 9 games at the Trop last year vs. the Yanks the average game missed a Sell Out by 10,000 each night (AND 6 OF THOSE GAMES WERE WEEKEND DATES). So in my estimation a simple focus on Yanks, Sox and other high profile games could still pay a HUGE dividend in our attendance challenge.



Yeah it didn’t look good last night. Yes it’s a splash of cold water to the face to remind us our problems have not gone away. But it was just one game. Let’s continue to build support one fan at a time, one ticket at a time. Let’s get rid of the talk that divides and let’s unite over the biggest issue of all: Losing our team to another City. Montreal attracted nearly 100,000 baseball fans last week over a series of two exhibition games. Don’t think that didn’t send a message to MLB? 



  • I think you overlooked the fact that the Lightning were playing a playoff-clinching game against a rival. That will take away a lot of sports fans.

    • Didn’t necessarily overlook it Ryan just simply didn’t want to sound like we were making excuses. I talked a lot on Twitter last night about cannibalization and it’s something that all of our Sports Teams are aware of. I’ve even heard Silverman talk about our population and the expendable income available to support Sports Entertainment. In my latest blog (check it out) I also spoke about the Total Inventory each franchise has to part with. It’s not fair to me for one to say “The Lightning have sold out entire seasons,” the “Rays problem is strictly location.” They have a TON more inventory to part with. For instance the Rays sold more tickets last year than the Lightning HAVE TO SELL. Why that’s never part of the conversation…I don’t know. But you bring up a good point. While I am not entirely sure how many people at the Forum the other night new we even had the ability to clinch a playoff spot that night (a lot had to fall into place) I agree that it’s tough to have 3 Major League franchises competing for dollars in our mid-sized market.

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